Yes, America, Republicans have healthcare plan

Tue, 09/01/2009 - 3:26pm
By: Letters to the ...

Despite the Democrats’ attempt to tell you otherwise, the Republicans do have a healthcare plan (in fact they have several, but I want to share two of them with you). For more information on all healthcare bills currently before the House and Senate, visit

Bill number one is called “The Patients’ Choice Act of 2009” (S 1090/HR 2520). The bill addresses comprehensive healthcare reform by doing the following (quoting directly from the bill):

1. Shifts healthcare tax benefits to individuals and families in the form of a “Medi-Choice” tax rebate worth about $2,200 for individuals and $5,700 for families. Under this plan, if you like the healthcare you have, you can keep it – but you’ll have more money in your pocket because you will still receive a tax rebate.

2. Lowers healthcare costs and insurance premiums by more sensibly caring for those with chronic illnesses and those deemed “uninsurable.”

3. Utilizes risk adjustment mechanisms and other options at the state level – such as reinsurance and risk pools – to extend coverage to those with chronic medical conditions.

4. Markets can’t solve all problems. This bill prevents cherry picking – when insurance companies choose to cover only healthy patients – by equalizing risk across insurance companies and reversing the perverse incentives that leave those most vulnerable with the fewest options.

5. Creates voluntary state-based solutions – state health exchanges – that will offer health insurance benefits using the same standard used for Members of Congress. Every American would have guaranteed access to coverage and care under this plan, regardless of patient age or health history.

6. Ensures that states get to design the solutions their patients need, states would have the freedom to form voluntary pooling arrangements with other state exchanges to diversify risk pools, ease administrative burdens and cover costs for insurance.

7. Provides simple new opportunities for automatic enrollment to help people who need coverage

8. Removes the stigma from Medicaid recipients and give them the ability to purchase the health coverage and care they need from any provider. It preserves Medicaid for the blind, aged, and disabled and eliminates widespread fraud in the programs.

On May 20, 2009, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and the following House committees: Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means “for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.”

Translation, it’s waiting for review but since the bill is sponsored by the Republicans and the committees are controlled by the Democrats, it could be a very long wait.

Bill number two is called “The Empowering Patients First Act” (HR 3400) sponsored by The Republican Study Committee (chairman, Rep. Tom Price, M.D., of Ga. The bill is centered on four main principles. They are (again, quoting directly from the bill):

Principle 1: Access to coverage for all Americans – Makes the purchase of healthcare financially feasible for all Americans, covers pre-existing conditions, protects employer-sponsored insurance, and shines light on existing healthcare plans.

Principle 2: Coverage is truly owned by the patient – Grants greater choice and portability to the patient, and also gives employers more flexibility in the benefits offered. It also expands the individual market by creating several pooling mechanisms.

Principle 3: Improve the healthcare delivery structure – Establishes doctor-led quality measures, ensuring that you get the quality care you need. It also reimburses physicians to ensure the stability of your care, and encourages healthier lifestyles by allowing employers to offer discounts for healthy habits through wellness and prevention programs.

Principle 4: Rein in out-of-control costs – Reforms the medical liability system. Also, the cost of the plan is completely offset through decreasing defensive medicine, savings from healthcare efficiencies, sifting out waste, fraud and abuse, plus an annual 1-percent non-defense discretionary spending step down.

On July 30, 2009, this bill was referred to the following House committees: Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Education and Labor, Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Rules, Budget and Appropriations “for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provision as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.”

Again, Democrats control all committees and will most likely sit on this bill.

Both bills continue the health savings accounts (HSAs) that allow individuals to set aside tax-free money for routine care. HSAs are now used by more than 6 million Americans and could reduce costs by allowing patients to shop for the coverage and services that suit their needs.

The majority of Americans believe we need some type of healthcare reform, but not the radical reform sponsored by the left. It is imperative as members return to Congress the week of Sept. 8 that we get the word out that Republicans do have alternatives and that Congress should consider them instead of burying them in committee.

Laura Lunsford

Fayetteville, Ga.

login to post comments